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Published: Sun, October 30, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Families looking for answers in Australian theme park deaths

Families looking for answers in Australian theme park deaths

Two women and two men died when rafts on the Thunder River Rapids ride at the hugely popular Dreamworld tourist attraction on the Gold Coast collided Tuesday, tipping one backwards and crushing or drowning those on board.

The Queensland Police Service did however make it clear that any decision to re-open the park, would ultimately lie with Dreamworld management.

She was asked whether she had finally reached out to the families of the victims following a fiery press conference on Thursday in which the mother of two victims disputed her claim they had made contact.

"What I can say is that it's now a matter of public record, because we put "right to information" requests into the division of Workplace Health and Safety [saying] that we had concerns".

Ardent chief executive Deborah Thomas said she would donate her cash bonus of $167,500 to the Australian Red Cross which would ensure the full amount would go directly to support victims' families.

Flanked by Dreamworld CEO Craig Davidson, Ms Thomas visited a floral tribute following a private memorial for staff at the venue. "Everybody is suffering from this and saddened and it's not just the people who work with us, but their families as well, so I hope that this is the beginning of the healing process".

"To the families of those who have lost loved ones, I extend my deepest sympathies on behalf of the people of Queensland, for your loss during this very hard time", she said.

"We've reached out to numerous people involved in the tragedy and spoken to them", Thomas told reporters.

Amusement parks are supposed to trade in fun, laughter and thrills, not in the shock and horror which unfolded on the Thunder River Rapids ride when a raft carrying six people (Kate Goodchild, her daughter Ebony, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi, and Cindy Low and her son Kieran) crashed into an empty raft stopped in front of them.

"Dave not only has to deal with his own grief, but be strong for their lovely daughters", Goodchild said.

Thomas offered to take the family's phone number and promised to call after the meeting.

Dreamworld will remain closed as a crime scene at least until Monday as police try and piece together what went wrong with the ride.

Mr Davidson said a memorial is planned, which would include the hundreds of bouquets of flowers and hand-written notes left outside the park.

"Dreamworld is concerned about the timing and nature of recent AWU media comments", the statement said.

The union official said he had a "deep-seated suspicion" the theme park was ignoring manufacturer standards on its rides.

Dreamworld has been shut since the accident occurred while the region's other major theme parks - Movie World, Wet'n'Wild and Sea World - are also taking a hit, Mr Winter said.

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